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6 Tips For Better Sounding Drums
Drum tuning could be considered more of an art than tuning other instruments. There are endless possibilities with tuning drums, how high or low to tune each head and relative to the top and bottom head AND relative to each tom! Knowing how to properly tune and maintain your drums is a big factor to having a great sounding drum kit and can make playing the drums more enjoyable. Here are 6 Tips to help you get the best sound out of your drums:
1. When removing old heads, avoid completely loosening one rod at at time:
Drum tuning starts even before you get your new new heads on. Use a diagonal pattern when loosening and tightening the rods. This will prevent the rim from bending and help keep even tension with your rods.
2. Clean and inspect your hardware:
When you remove the rim, tension rods and old drum head, wipe the inside and edge of the drum with a dry piece of cloth. Tap the inside of the drum to check that your drum lugs and mounting hardware is tight. Any loose nuts can cause unwanted buzz and overtones in your drum. Keep your tension rods and drum lugs clean and lubricated to help prevent stripping your threads.
3. Break in your drum head:
Prevent your new drum head from repeatedly going out of tune by pushing down in the center of the drum with your hand. You should be able to put a good portion of your weight onto the drum. Don’t be concerned if you hear popping or glue-cracking sounds, you are helping seat the head. Once you’ve got the new head seated and the tension rods finger tight, you’re ready to start tuning the drum.
4. Get a Drum Dial or Tune Bot tuner:
The Drum Dial measures the tension near each lug and can allow you to tune a drum evenly. This is a huge help for getting your drums in tune. The Tune Bot is a digital tuner that can register the pitch and allow you to tune to specific frequencies, rather than gauging the tension. I personally use the Drum Dial and have found it very helpful for tuning my drums. They even offer specific settings of a number of professional drummers that you can try for yourself.
These drum tuners will improve your natural ability to tune drums just like a guitar tuner would. The more you accurately tune your instrument the better your ear will get for tuning. A nugget I came across was John Bonham’s snare tuning. Very tight resonant snare head 400HZ and batter about 275HZ. He might have used a 40 strand snare wire but the 30 strand worked well.
5. Tom Suspension Mounts:
If you haven’t already, consider adding suspension mounts to your rack toms. These mounts place rubber barriers between your tom mount and toms to eliminate vibrations between your toms and mounting hardware. This will allow your drums to resonant more and help get rid of unwanted overtones caused by these vibrations. This is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade the sound of your kit without actually having to buy a new kit.
Above all, the most important thing is to experiment with different tunings. The more tunings you try and the more frequently you keep your drums in tune the better your ear will get. Drum tuning is a skill you need to practice just like every other facet of drumming. Now get off your computer and get woodshedding!